How to make my borders look good

divya84divya84 Posts: 24
Newbie gardener here. I have just planted up some shrubs and herbaceous perennials in my border. But the border looks untidy with lots of stones, uneven soil etc. How can I make it look better and also avoid weeds, slugs etc -- is bark mulch/decorative bark the way to go? I saw something called strulch in the garden store that claimed to do a lot of things, but I wasn't sure what it would look like. 

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  • Papi JoPapi Jo Brittany, France Posts: 1,050
    You seem to have got your chronology wrong.  ;)
    First clear ground of stones, etc. Then improve the soil. Then plant shrubs & perennials. Then put mulch. Not intended as a model but hopefully a source of inspiration, see my garden history at http://www.rezeau.org/wp-garden/en/the-garden-history/

    You are invited to a virtual visit of my garden (in English or in French).
  • Blue OnionBlue Onion Posts: 1,695
    I favor bark mulch myself.  It adds to the soil as it rots down, helps retain moisture, and makes weeding easier.  Make sure you keep your new plants well watered this summer, to help them establish. 
    Utah, USA.
  • divya84divya84 Posts: 24
    edited 13 June
    Papi Jo said:
    You seem to have got your chronology wrong.  ;)
    First clear ground of stones, etc. Then improve the soil. Then plant shrubs & perennials. Then put mulch. Not intended as a model but hopefully a source of inspiration, see my garden history at http://www.rezeau.org/wp-garden/en/the-garden-history/

    We have quite heavy clay and some issues with weeds, so we dug it up and put cardboard then mixed clay with sand, topsoil and compost and added that, then planted. But the border doesn't have that neat even look -- because it is clay soil, it gets a bit clumpy here and there. 
  • Freddies DadFreddies Dad LarbertPosts: 699
    My borders are a good 30cm high as I want to avoid water problems in winter and I can control water and feed in summer. This also looks better as I top up the soil. Covering with a thick mulch hides a multitude of problems but never solves them. If you just want a good looking border then chipped bark works well. You need to keep it away from the shrub and plant trunks to avoid rot.
  • divya84divya84 Posts: 24
    edited 13 June
    Papi Jo said:
    Wow. Thats great -- the progress from June to Sep of your garden is making me so hopeful :smile: BTW what kind of climbers do you have against those trellises. I have bought a honeysuckle and clematis for mine, but don't think my fence is strong enough to handle both. I like how you have installed it perpendicular to your fence -- I might try that too. BTW what type of trellis is that? I have never seen one in the garden centre that I can stake to the ground. 

  • divya84divya84 Posts: 24
    I favor bark mulch myself.  It adds to the soil as it rots down, helps retain moisture, and makes weeding easier.  Make sure you keep your new plants well watered this summer, to help them establish. 
    Thank you. Will do :-) Btw is there a good time to put the mulch down. Can I do it any time or wait till the plants are established? 
  • B3B3 Posts: 5,668
    A layer of compost will hide a multitude of sins too.
    Breaking up any clumps will make it look better too. This is best done after a bit of rain has soaked in.
    Any unplanted areas, you can break up by walking over it on your heels and then rake/ fork over to loosen it again.
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • BijdezeeBijdezee Bruges, BelgiumPosts: 258
    I would go for a bark mulch after you have cleared as many of the stones as you can. If you can wait to put the mulch down after it rains.

    Also some ground cover plants are good to keep weeds down, for example i find the hardy geraniums good for that. Geranium sang.striatum is a particularly long flowering one. Here is a pic of it in my garden. 
  • K67K67 Leicestershire Posts: 105
    I have strultch mulch on my clay soil, or new build rubble and clay!  It's very light to carry but does stay in place unless the dog walks over it and then bits stick to her fur and are dropped through the house. It doesn't look that nice though. I would use a small bark next time or my favourite was cocoa shell which smelt like chocolate for a few weeks, it also bound together so the birds couldn't chuck it over the lawn in their search for insects. Will eventually have plants that cover but this beds only been in a month.
  • Papi JoPapi Jo Brittany, France Posts: 1,050
    divya84 said:
    Wow. Thats great -- the progress from June to Sep of your garden is making me so hopeful :smile: BTW what kind of climbers do you have against those trellises. I have bought a honeysuckle and clematis for mine, but don't think my fence is strong enough to handle both. I like how you have installed it perpendicular to your fence -- I might try that too. BTW what type of trellis is that? I have never seen one in the garden centre that I can stake to the ground. 

    For a full list of the climbers growing against my trellises, see the garden plan. Actually, some trellises are parallel to the fence (50cm from it) and others are perpendicular. They are fairly standard trellises found at garden centres (in France), attached to strong wood posts.
    Below is a view of what I call my "garden wings", showing the narrow passage between the shared fence with my neighbour (to the right) and the trellis with climbers (to the left). That IMHO is the best solution for growing climbers and avoiding all problems with neighbours. ;)

    You are invited to a virtual visit of my garden (in English or in French).
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